Thursday, December 26, 2019

Sneak peek at my new book, UNION

I spent a fair part of 2019 working on my sixth book and, to close out the year, am pleased to be able to share its cover art, preliminary description, and pre-order pages. It's called Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood; it's the third part of an informal trilogy that started with American Nations (and continued with American Character); and it's out with Viking Press in June 2020.

If American Nations showed that there has always been not one America but several, Union tells the tale of how 19th century Americans created -- and viciously fought over -- a national narrative to paper over this problematic condition. Told through the lives of several key figures in the struggle, it shows that our federation has long been a battleground between civic- and ethno- nationalist explanations of our national origins, purpose, and identity. Trumpism's roots, sadly, run as deep as American ideals late 20th century Americans almost unanimously embraced.

Also, Woodrow Wilson was even worse than you think.

I'm a champion of local, independent bookstores, so hope interested parties can order the book from their favorite. But for reference -- and for those who live in bookstore deserts -- here's the Amazon page (with Kindle edition) and Barnes & one (with Nook edition).

Friday, December 13, 2019

Maine's EMS system in crisis

Maine is the least densely populated state this side of the Missouri River, and that's put it on the frontlines of a nationwide crisis for Emergency Medical Services -- the ambulance, air ambulance, and rescue teams that respond to 911 calls and transfer patients between medial facilities. The root problem is a broken reimbursement model, with the federal Medicare program at its center, but the effects are being felt across small town America.

I wrote about the crisis this week in a special two-part series for the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, with photos from colleague Ben McCanna.

The main story, in this week's Telegram, describes the crisis, which has many EMS officials warning that after years of strain, the system is coming apart. It describes why this is happening, what its meant for patients and health care delivery, and what might be done to solve it.

The companion story, in this past Monday's Press Herald, is on the frontline paramedics and EMTs who have borne the brunt of the fraying funding model, holding the system together via long hours, multiple jobs, and poor pay, even as their capabilities (and training demands) have increased.

I hope you'll take a look.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Bills to protect working waterfronts, tribal women pass US House, sit at Senate

Some non-impeachment related Washington news.

I've recently reported on the passage of a couple of bills in the US House that are of particular importance in Maine. They're broadly regarded as non-partisan and, theoretically, should be uncontroversial, but are among hundreds with an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled Senate.

The first is a measure to help protect and revitalize working waterfronts, which passed the House this week with 34 Republicans in favor. There's no Senate companion bill as yet.

The second is the reauthorization for the Violence Against Women Act, which would extend jurisdiction to certain types of domestic violence and sexual assault cases occurring on tribal reservations to qualified tribal courts. The Senate surprised those following the issue when its majority Republican caucus unveiled a version that instead puts new restrictions in place for tribal courts.

There's also a bill to assess and respond to ocean acidification, a byproduct of global warming that's threatening shellfish growers and harvesters. The Senate version has bipartisan sponsorship, but no momentum.

I wrote about these three measures in particular because I help cover Maine's delegation for the Portland Press Herald, and all were introduced by the state's senior House member, Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-ME02, but they're likely indicative of a wider situation on the Hill.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

In Boston, talking about American nationhood and its problems with The American Question.

Spent yesterday in the belly of the beast, the old Massachusetts Bay Colony, doing an interview for this forthcoming documentary film project, The American Question. Filmmakers Guy Seemann and James Kicklighter are asking what holds us together, as communities or as a nation and I enjoyed sharing my take. Found myself talking a lot about the themes in Union: The Struggle to Forge the Story of United States Nationhood, which comes out in June 2020.

Found myself at one point standing, unexpectedly, at the spot on the edge of Boston Common where a (mostly African-American) crowd protested the release of the Klan-loving The Birth of a Nation back in 1915, which features in Union. The Tremont Theater was across Tremont Avenue. Now, appropriately enough, there's a gigantic AMC Loews Theater on the site.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Maine nurse saving lives in the Mediterranean

In this week's Maine Sunday Telegram I profile Tim Harrison, a veteran Medecins sans Frontiers nurse from Union, Maine who has spent decades saving lives in some of the most dangerous and unstable parts of the world. Now he's on an MSF rescue ship off the coast of Libya, saving thousands of migrants fleeing war, torture, and sex trafficking in their home countries, which are spread across the Eastern Hemisphere.

European governments, for their part, tried to shut them down, refusing scheduled refueling stops or even threatening prosecution (because the rescuers don't return migrants to Libya, the lawless country they are fleeing from in overloaded rubber rafts.)

Details in the story.